The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which brings together 91 countries and territories, including both OECD and non-OECD countries, has begun a peer review process. The review will be carried out in two phases: assessment of the legislative and regulatory framework (Phase 1) and an assessment of the effective implementation practice (Phase 2).

The reviews are a first step in a three year process approved in February by the Global Forum, in response to calls by G20 leaders at their Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009 for improved tax transparency and exchange of information.

A number of countries, of which Jersey is one, volunteered to combine the two Phases of the review process. Jersey also volunteered to be one of the first jurisdictions to be assessed. The schedule of reviews which is available on the OECD website shows that the other countries who have volunteered to be assessed for both Phases in the first review period are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Mauritius and Norway.

The jurisdictions accepted for this combined Phases review from the outset are those that are recognised as having a clear commitment to the international standards of tax transparency and information exchange, and are also jurisdictions that have had good experience of information exchange through the application of relevant tax agreements into which they have entered.

The combined Phases review takes the form of a self-completion questionnaire, and the undertaking of an on-site visit by two assessors who in the case of Jersey will be drawn from Denmark and Bermuda. The assessors will also have the benefit of information provided by those jurisdictions which have made a request for information.

The peer review process is being overseen by a Peer Review Group of which Jersey is one of four vice-chairs – India, Japan and Singapore being the others – under French chairmanship. The Peer Review Group has developed a robust, transparent process to assess how effectively the international standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes are being implemented by individual jurisdictions. 

In addition to publishing the schedule of forthcoming reviews, the Global Forum has published three other key documents:

  • the terms of reference explaining the information exchange standard countries must meet;
  • the methodology for the conduct of the reviews;
  • the assessment criteria explaining how countries will be rated.

For each jurisdiction assessed a report will be produced by the assessors which will be presented to the Peer Review Group and then to the Global Forum, and if approved by the Forum the report will then be published. The first reports, of which that for Jersey will be one, will be considered by the Global Forum at its next meeting in Singapore at the end of September.